Lyndhurst, Ohio --
Freshman Marcus Wilson (Macon, GA) broke free from a jam up at the line of scrimmage and sprinted in for a 51 yard touchdown with 5:43 left in the game to give North Greenville (7-3) its sixth consecutive victory, a 21-14 nail biter over Notre Dame College. Wilson’s game winner was set up by NGU linebacker Carl Dukes’ first career interception with 6:10 left in the game.
The Crusaders adapted quickly to the blustery conditions and scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, but turnovers and a myriad of penalties bogged down Coach Jamey Chadwell’s offense after that. North Greenville dominated the game statistically, piling up 431 yards to only 235 for the Falcons. Wilson had his best game as a Crusader with 134 yards on 18 carries, Idris Anderson had 79 yards on the ground, and Willy Korn went 8-13 passing for 108 yards for the balanced NGU attack.
After the NGU defense forced a Notre Dame punt on its first possession, the Crusaders took over at their own 25 yard line. Korn marched NGU down the field on an 11 play, 75 yard drive and Teryan Rucker carried in from two yards out for the touchdown (his 6th of the year). Stephen Arneson kicked the extra point to put NGU up 7-0 early.
However, the Falcons Jack Foy took the ensuing kickoff back 92 yards for a Notre Dame touchdown that tied the game quickly.
North Greenville responded with yet another time consuming, ground pounding drive that ate up 10 plays, 48 yards and 5:47 off the clock. Korn culminated the drive with a one yard touchdown plunge with 35 seconds left in the first quarter. After Arneson’s kick, NGU led 14-7.
Perhaps it was the weather, with wind gusts over 20 miles per hour, but both teams struggled in the second quarter. NGU was stopped on fourth down once by Notre Dame, and fumbled on yet another series. North Greenville was driving again at the end of the second quarter, but Korn was sacked twice, including the last play of the half. NGU led 14-7 at the break.
NGU started erratically in the second half as Korn was intercepted for only the second time this season on its first drive. The Crusader defense turned away a Falcon drive and held on fourth and three at the NGU 33 yard line. However, Teryan Rucker fumbled on the ensuing series, and Notre Dame capitalized when quarterback James Flowers dove in from a yard out with 6:35 left in the third and tied the game 14-14.
The teams traded punts as the fourth quarter began, and NGU again drove deep into Falcon territory, but the Crusaders’ Anthony Johnson fumbled. Notre Dame then rode its offense down the field seemingly setting themselves up for the go ahead touchdown. But, the NGU defense again stiffened. On fourth and 13 at the NGU 22 yard line, Flowers’ pass attempt to Derrick Paster was broken up by Brenton Davis, and North Greenville took over with eight minutes remaining. In what might have been a pivotal play, the Crusaders moved to their own 43 yard line and facing a fourth and one, Chadwell went for it. However, Wilson was stopped behind the line and Notre Dame took over with 6:19 left.
In perhaps one of the biggest defensive plays of the year, Carl Dukes intercepted Flowers’ pass on the very next play, giving NGU the ball at its own 35 yard line. The Crusader offensive then flexed its collective muscles. Freddie Martino took a pitch and went 14 yards for a first down at the 49 yard line. That set up Wilson’s 51 yard explosion on the next play that gave North Greenville the lead with 5:43 left. Arneson’s kick made the score 21-14.
The Crusader defense then forced a Notre Dame punt after the kickoff, and North Greenville got the ball at the 38 yard line with 3:23 left. Chadwell turned to the team’s strength this season, the running game. Anderson carried 10 yards for a first down, followed by Wilson going 11 yards for yet another NGU first down. Notre Dame called two timeouts trying to stop the clock, but when Korn hit Anderson with a short pass for a four-yard gain with 1:15 left, the Crusaders ran out the clock to secure the victory.
NGU’s sixth straight win tied for the second best win streak in school history, and this year’s team became only the fourth team on record to win seven games.
“Today was a day where we were tested and were able to answer,” Chadwell said. “We faced a lot of adversity today, with the weather, too many penalties, turnovers and the long trip, but when we needed to step up, we did. Our defense absolutely played outstanding. It really shows that our team is unifying and coming together, because our offense didn’t perform like it had been in previous weeks. However, it showed that this team is on a mission to keep winning.”
“The defense really only gave up one touchdown the whole game and made big plays like Carl Dukes’ interception and Brenton Davis batting down a fourth down pass in the end zone on a fourth down. The ball was tipped at the line and Carl picked it off to set up our final drive. Then, the offense went down and scored when we needed it. Also, at the end of the game with Notre Dame trying to get the ball back, we ran the clock out on them, so we made plays when we really had to.”
“This was a good win for our team because did face so much,” he added. “We were able to move the ball between the 20’s the entire game, but turnovers and penalties always seemed to keep us out of the end zone. But, we clicked when we needed to and that keeps us coming back for more.”
NGU will conclude its regular season next Saturday, Nov. 6 when they play at UNC Pembroke. Kickoff against the Braves is set for 2:00 p.m.